Toyota deliberately tested LMP1 on three wheels

Toyota Gazoo Racing during the WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard

Toyota has tested its TS050 Hybrid LMP1 car on three wheels in order to prepare itself for problems it may encounter during the upcoming World Endurance Championship season.

The Japanese marque has infamously come close to but fallen short of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans on multiple occasions, most notably in 2016 when one of its cars led comfortably before losing power on the penultimate lap.

Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon revealed that the team has run through a number of scenarios during pre-season testing which are designed to simulate in-race technical problems.

Those scenarios, which the team counts at 20 to 25, included deliberately sending a car out for a lap on only three wheels during private testing at Aragon and pretending that the radio had failed.

During the weekend’s Prologue at Circuit Paul Ricard, the team simulated engine or front motor failures in order to test recovery systems.

“There are a wide range of things that can happen,” said Vasselon.

“We have done some laps with three wheels. It’s about recovering the car. We basically removed one wheel and asked the team to bring back the car.

“At least for those situations we have practiced for, at least the team knows what to do, which mistakes to avoid.

“Before, we had to focus first on performance because the first condition to win Le Mans was to outperform the others, especially when Audi was there. You could not rely on just reliability to do it.

“Then, (we focused on) making a fast car reliable, which we managed. Then the third step was, ‘What happens if things go wrong in an unexpected way?’ and that’s where we failed.

“In the last years, we did not fail because of lack of performance (and) we did not fail really for a full lack of reliability.

“We failed in the way to handle unexpected situations, which has put the car and the team outside the normal working (conditions).

“Now we’ve come much better prepared for the third kind of item.”

Toyota set its fastest laps during the Prologue, WEC’s two-day official pre-season test, while running outside the championship’s Equivalence of Technology regulations.

Vasselon claimed that the breach was a deliberate means of stress testing the car’s cooling system, which was not possible at the time if operating within regulations.

The 2018/19 World Endurance Championship starts with the 6 Hours of Spa on May 3-5.

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